Category Archives: Internet Browsers

News and Information about Internet Browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Flock, Safari. Extensions, Add-ons, User Scripts, Tips and Tricks for all the Internet Browsers available today.

Firefox 5 Finally Releases Officially after A Long Wait

If you are a regular reader here at Techie Buzz, chances are you have already read how we covered Firefox 5 being availability from the FTP channels. This release was available almost a week ahead of the official release. Once a Firefox release is made  official, it is pushed from the same FTP channel that we pointed out in that post. Therefore, you can be assured that it was indeed the final release.  The good news  today is that Mozilla has officially announced the release of Firefox 5. This means, you can download it at the official Firefox download page. This also marks the graduation of Firefox into a Firefox version 5.
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I am sure you have already heard a lot about Firefox 5 so I will sum it up for you in as short as I can. There is no better place to download Firefox 5  than from the official Firefox homepage at Mozilla. Once you complete that download, here are some Firefox tricks and tweaks to apply.

What’s Next now that Firefox 5 is here?

Firefox 5 has come a long way from an idea to a release and next up is Firefox 6 with more awesomeness. I have serious doubts about any performance improvements (Firefox 5 disappointed me) in Firefox 6 but I am really happy about the way Firefox is allowing its users more control over the browser and the browsing experience. Firefox 6 will be out in August and will bring native progress bars (native to each OS), browser orientation based display of websites and push events from the server to a website.

Firefox 4 was downloaded over a 100 million times after the official release and we expect the same enthusiastic response from Firefox 5 downloads.

Microsoft Gets Slammed for Its Hypocritical Stance on WebGL

Last week, I reported that Microsoft won’t be supporting WebGL in Internet Explorer due to security concerns. WebGL is a cross-platform 3D graphics API for the web that enables web applications running in the browser to do all sorts of cool stuff. Currently all the major browser vendors apart from Microsoft (i.e. Mozilla, Google, Opera, and Apple) actively support the WebGL initiative. Microsoft gave a pretty detailed technical explanation of their issues with WebGL, which led me to remark that Microsoft might be doing the right thing for a change. However, I might have been too hasty in giving the software giant, which has built a reputation of not willing to play nice, the clean chit.

One of the things I have long criticized tech-giants like Microsoft and Apple for is hypocrisy. As it turns out, the latest WebGL vs. Microsoft incident is another glowing example of the same. The biggest problem with Microsoft’s criticism of WebGL was first highlighted by Opera Software’s HÃ¥vard K. Moen and later elaborated upon by Google’s Gregg Tavares.


Microsoft: Criticizes something WebGL is doing. Does the exact same thing with Silverlight. Sigh.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

It appears that Microsoft’s security consciousness magically vanishes as soon as it moves away from WebGL, with which it has clear conflicts of interests. WebGL is based on OpenGL, which is the main competitor of Microsoft’s DirectX. Adobe’s Flash and Microsoft’s own Silverlight suffers from many of the same drawbacks highlighted by Microsoft. However, Microsoft has no qualms about allowing these plug-ins to work on Internet Explorer. Tavares, who has been working on Chrome’s GPU acceleration and WebGL features, is understandably furious.

The latest FUD is Microsoft’s claim that they won’t support WebGL because it’s insecure. They might have a little more credibility if they weren’t promoting a technology, Silverlight 5, that provides the EXACT SAME FEATURES with all the same issues. They can’t have it both ways. Either it’s possible to make this tech safe or else it’s not. If it is possible to make it safe in Silverlight 5 then it’s also just as possible in WebGL. If it’s not possible to make it safe Microsoft would have to come out and say (1) They are removing GPU access from Silverlight 5. (2) They are banning Unity3D from running in IE since it also provides access to the EXACT SAME FEATURES. (3) They are banning Flash 11 from running in IE since it also provides access to the EXACT SAME FEATURES.

He also alleges that the research done by ContextIS into the security vulnerabilities present in WebGL was sponsored by Microsoft. If that is true, then this won’t be the first time that Microsoft has done something like this. However, at the very least, the results presented by ContextIS aren’t manipulated like the ones by NSS labs.

Tavares also tackled the main objections raised by Microsoft. One of the objections was related to denial of service, wherein a malicious process can prevent other processes from accessing the services of the GPU by asking the GPU to process something that takes too long.

The simplest solution is to time how long the GPU is taking to execute each task. If it’s taking too long reset the GPU and kill the page that issued the command. Microsoft Windows is one of the only OSes that currently provides this solution. They should be proud of this. They can basically claim the best place to run WebGL is on Windows. The Khronos group is working to bring similar functionality to other OSes as fast as possible and it may already be available in some drivers.
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Of course it’s completely unacceptable if your machine gets DOSed. My only point is (1) there are fixes, Windows already support them and they are coming soon to other OSes. (2) it’s not has (sic) bad as your machine getting owned. In fact most likely very soon now, if a page takes too long on the GPU it will be marked bad by the browser. If you try to visit it again you’ll be warned. Similarly using techniques like Safe Browsingwe can warn you in advance while we work on providing the real fixes in all OSes.

The other point raised by Microsoft was that WebGL provides low-level hardware access in a way that is overly permissive. Bugs present in the graphics driver can create serious security issues. Tavares suggests that sandboxing coupled with a multi-process architecture can go a long way towards solving these issues. Google currently parallelizes all WebGL calls. Before anything is passed to the GPU, Chrome performs strict validation and even tries to work around several known GPU driver bugs.

Undoubtedly, the current status of WebGL is far from ideal. However, it’s still a work in progress, and the Khronos group is still busy tying up all the loose ends. One thing that is for certain is that WebGL is essential for cross-platform, cutting-edge, next-gen web applications that will blur the line between native and web applications.

Firefox 5 is Here Before Schedule and We Are Impressed!

Firefox 5 was scheduled for a release on June 21st and Mozilla has put it on a very strict roadmap this year. However, what makes Firefox awesome recently, is how it is following these deadlines and the way it has released Firefox 5 ahead of a schedule. Yes, Firefox 5 is available ahead of the scheduled 21st June and you can grab it for a download.

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We brought you the download of the RC version for Firefox 5 a few days ago and it is full of new features and improvements. The download for Firefox 5 is available at the FTP channel (again) ahead of official announcement and it is available for all platforms. You can get it here at the Firefox 5 FTP directory.

If you are not following things, Firefox 5 is the next stable release of Firefox and you might want to learn some cool Firefox tweaks that go seamlessly with this version. The final build of Firefox 5 is missing a channel switcher and the most appreciated feature in Firefox 5 is the DNT header.

These are links for downloads of English versions.

Download English version of Firefox 5.0 for Windows

Download English version of Firefox 5.0 for Mac

Download English version of Firefox 5.0 for Linux

What follows next is Firefox 6, which is already in alpha and will be seen as a beta release in exactly two weeks from now. Do not uphold that scheduled date too seriously now, Mozilla might surprise us again! I am waiting for download visualizations of Firefox 5, which will follow only from an official release due sometime soon.

Microsoft Disses WebGL, Calls It Harmful

WebGLWebGL is a cross-platform 3D graphics API for the web that is being adopted by the likes of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera in order to usher in next-gen graphics intensive web applications. However, one major browser vendor has decided to distance itself from the pack, and has announced that it won’t be supporting WebGL. No points for guessing who that browser vendor is. It is none other than Microsoft.

Microsoft has a terrible track record when it comes to adopting new standards. They have been trying to turn a new leaf, but there have been several missteps along the way. They also happen to be the folks behind DirectX, the main competitor of OpenGL, which forms the basis for WebGL. So, its not all that surprising that Microsoft has decided to diss WebGL. However, before the knives come out, Microsoft might actually be right for a change.

Microsoft’s objection is based on the fact that WebGL, in spite of claims to the contrary by the Khronos Group, isn’t really secure. Microsoft explained the technicalities behind its objections in a fair amount of detail in its TechNet blog post. The three main points raised by Microsoft are:

  1. WebGL provides low-level hardware access in a way that is overly permissive.
  2. Even security procedures put in place can be circumvented due to the presence of vulnerabilities in the graphics driver. The onus for ensuring security will fall on the driver manufacturers and not on the browser or operating system vendor. Users rarely update their hardware drivers; and even the manufactures themselves aren’t accustomed to releasing frequent and quick security updates.
  3. Modern operating systems and graphics infrastructure were never designed to fully defend against attacker-supplied shaders and geometry. It might become possible for hackers to crash and reboot systems at will by supplying malformed data.

Microsoft believes that WebGL will likely become an ongoing source of hard-to-fix vulnerabilities, and this is a concern that has been raised before by third parties. WebGL is an exciting piece of technology. It is also something that is required to push the boundaries of what can be done within a web app. Microsoft might be playing spoil sport; however, with the current design flaws in WebGL, Microsoft’s stance also makes a lot of sense. Let’s hope that the Khronos Group will manage to find a way to assuage the concerns surrounding WebGL.

Mozilla’s Prospector Extension for Firefox Guesses Which Website You Want to Browse Next

Speed dials, in one form or the other, has become the norm in modern browsers. Opera invented the feature, and it has since then been adopted by Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer. One browser that has been missing this feature is Firefox. However, that might be about to change.

Mozilla has announced a new Labs initiative called Prospector. Mozilla is attempting to take speed dials to the next level by making it context aware. The Prospector extension adds predictive speed dials, which lists bookmarks and previously visited webpages that it feels are relevant to the webpage you are currently browsing. In short, it tries to guess which website you are most likely to browse next.

Firefox searches both your bookmarks and history for similar websites that you may be interested in based on what you were recently browsing. This is currently displayed along with some experimental statistics such as score (which is how similar the tags are), frequency (which is a measure of frequency and recency) and others.

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All the computation required for the predictive speed dial is done locally, and no data is sent out by your browser. Mozilla says that a well maintained and tagged set of bookmarks will help Firefox is throwing up more relevant results; however, it is not essential.

While the idea behind Predictive Newtab is undoubtedly interesting, it’s impossible to say how well it works without testing it for a few days. Opera’s speed dial concept works as well as it does because it is simple. Most people have a dozen websites that they visit really frequently, and Opera allows users to set those websites as speed dials. Chrome tries to do this automatically by relying on frequency count to cull a list of most visited websites. Firefox is trying to rank websites based on frequency and relevance. However, without a well maintained set of tagged bookmarks (or crowdsourcing), determining relevance can be a hard thing. Additional indicators like meta-tags can be considered; however, Firefox doesn’t appear to be doing that. Moreover, relevance often doesn’t have anything to do with the next website that I am likely to browse. The fact that I currently have a Gmail tab open doesn’t necessarily imply that I am going to browse Yahoo Mail or Hotmail next.

You can go ahead and download the Prospector extension from here. Don’t forget to share your experience with the Prospector extension. If Mozilla’s experiment succeeds, then Predictive Newtab could very well show up in future versions of Firefox.

Firefox 5 Final Beta is Out, Brings new Features and Confirmation of a Release Next Week

The Firefox 4 release event was a huge success and the visualization of downloads added fun to the otherwise monotonous event. This time, Firefox 5 is just around the corner and they have announced it today with the release of the final beta version. Firefox 5 beta is available from the beta channel and this is the final testing beta version. You can download it here.

Firefox 5 final build is out ahead of the scheduled 21st June date. Head over to this post for download links and other information.

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Firefox is moving at lightning speed. It has moved to version 5 from the  earlier version 4 in just around three months. The first beta of Firefox 5 showed up  on the 23rd of May.

The most notable change in the beta release is the removal of the channel switcher. The feature was welcome but it is a surprise to see it gone suddenly. Apparently, the channel switcher was causing users to run multiple instances of Firefox releases. Apart from that, the new version brings stability enhancements and some CSS animation improvements.

firefox-5

Mozilla is also pushing Firefox for mobile parallel to this and it has graduated to version 5. You can get it  at this page. Both the desktop and mobile version include user tracking opt-outs using the legendary  DNT header and location tracking opt-outs. This gives the user a lot of control over what information he shares with websites.

You might want to brush up your Firefox  tweaking skills with this tutorial. The final version is coming exactly five days from now.

Mozilla Project MemShrink Looks Into Speeding Up Firefox

Firefox has a long standing history of excessive memory usage and slow startups. No matter how much of tweaking and customization we make, Firefox will still remain the same slow browser. This is finally identified as a problem at Mozilla and they are working on fixing the biggest annoyance in Firefox: the speed issues.

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When I talk about speed in this post, it is not related to the speed of surfing the Internet. I am talking about the responsiveness and startup of Firefox. The long waiting hours will soon be over and project MemShrink is here to make sure of that.

MemShrink is a project that aims to reduce Firefox’s memory consumption. There are three potential benefits:

  1. Speed: less cache pressure, and less paging. The latter is crucial, as it can destroy performance.
  2. Stability: fewer OOMs, whether due to address space exhaustion or otherwise. This results in fewer crashes (due to mishandling of OOM) or aborts.
  3. Perception: fewer people will complain about Firefox being a memory hog.

From what this page tells me, Mozilla has a number of leaks to take care of which have piled up over time. Mozilla developer Johnny Stenback has talked of the project MemShrink saying,

to help get more attention to this issue we’ll be starting up a MemShrink effort, where a group of people will get together to look at the big picture, triage bugs, investigate general approaches, and do some brainstorming.

One positive outcome from this will definitely be some improvement on Firefox memory usage, which shoots up with time and does that abnormally. The same problem is encountered on other browsers as well and sometimes, the Windows Task Manager cannot be trusted for correct memory usage readings. The fact is, Firefox is slow and this needs to change in future versions.

Google Chrome 12 Stable version for Linux, Mac and Windows is Available Now

Google has announced the final stable release of its Google Chrome browser version  12.0.742.91. The browser is available for all three major operating systems, namely Windows, Linux and Mac. The announcement came yesterday and the latest version includes hardware accelerated 3D CSS and a new Safe Browsing feature.

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The final stable version has removed Google Gears support and there are many visible as well as behind-the-scene changes. The dev team has taken care to release binary packages for supported linux distros like Ubuntu and Fedora. All in all, Google Chrome is on a strong roadmap and it is taking on the web-browser world with speed and features.

The list of changes as it appears on the official announcement post on the Google Chrome blog says,

  • Hardware accelerated 3D CSS
  • New Safe Browsing protection against downloading malicious files
  • Ability to delete Flash cookies from inside Chrome
  • Launch Apps by name from the Omnibox
  • Integrated Sync into new settings pages
  • Improved screen reader support
  • New warning when hitting Command-Q on Mac
  • Removal of Google Gears

Apart from these changes, there are numerous security fixes that went into the latest stable release. Some of these fixes had bounty points on them. The Chrome Release blog also wrote,

In addition, we would like to thank David Levin of the Chromium development community, miaubiz, Christian Holler and Martin Barbella for working with us in the development cycle and preventing bugs from ever reaching the stable channel. Various rewards were issued.

We’d also like to call particular attention to Sergey Glazunov’s $3133.7 reward. Although the linked bug is not of critical severity, it was accompanied by a beautiful chain of lesser severity bugs which demonstrated critical impact. It deserves a more detailed write-up at a later date.

As always, the download is available at the Google Chrome download page.

CloudMagic: Search GMail and Google Docs Even Faster

The usage of cloud-based services is increasing every day. Though good search features are offered by Google for Gmail and Google Docs, it is not always as fast as desktop search. Also unified search results across multiple services are not provided. CloudMagic was developed with these requirements in mind. It offers extremely fast, offline, search-as-you-type feature for online data.

CloudMagic has been launched with Gmail and Google Docs. CloudMagic can search across multiple Google accounts for presentations, spreadsheets, documents etc., and present a unified search result. It also offers instant email message previews as well as drag-and-drop feature for search results.

Online data is indexed and stored in your local hard disk. Relevant text data is indexed leaving out all kinds of attachments and binary data. Only a fraction of the entire data is indexed. So it occupies very little of your hard disk space. The index gets updated automatically when you are online. The indexed web pages need not be kept open for updating an index. You do not need to store passwords with any third party servers because the index is stored in your local hard disk.

Currently CloudMagic is available for Firefox and Chrome. Here are the installation instructions for both the browsers.

Installation on Mozilla Firefox

1. To install CloudMagic in Firefox click Tools > Add-ons in the menu bar to open the Add-ons window and search for CloudMagic.

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2. Click on the Add to Firefoxbutton. The following license agreement window is displayed.

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3. Click Accept and Installbutton .Then click on Install Now in the Add-ons window. Once the installation is complete, restart Firefox. The CloudMagic icon will appear in the toolbar as shown below. Click on it to open the CloudMagic page in a new tab.

 

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Installation on Google Chrome

1. To Install the plugin in Chrome open Cloudmagic homepage in Chrome and click the Install Now button.

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2. Once the plugin download is complete, click Install as you are prompted to.

3. When the installation is complete the CloudMagic icon is displayed in Chrome.

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4. To use CloudMagic you need to add your Gmail accounts first. Click on CloudMagic icon and then select Manage Accounts drop down arrow beside the search box.

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5. In the following page, one more click brings you the add account page.

6. Add as many Google accounts you wish.

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7. Next click on the Preferences link to set the search preferences. You are now all set to use CloudMagic.

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The next time you open your GMail or Google Docs account you find a CloudMagic search box as shown in the screenshot below.

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Isn’t that great? If you are power user of Google docs and Gmail, CloudMagic is an indispensable tool. Try once and you’ll love the instant search that the tool provides. With tons of emails stuffed in your mail this certainly makes your life easier. Happy searching. Do let us know if this has made your search experience better.

Private Browsing In Firefox For Android

Yes, you now have the right to browse privately on your Android phone with Firefox Beta. Firefox has introduced the “Do Not Track” feature in their latest build for Android. It is the first mobile Web browser to offer the “Do Not Track” privacy feature.

The Do Not Track feature gives more control to users over the way their browsing history is tracked and used online. The feature behaves just like private browsing and enables users to tell websites if they prefer to stay anonymous or not.

Do Not Track - Firefox for Android

To enable the feature, open Settings and click on the button that says Tell sites not to track me. Once you’ve enabled the Do Not Track feature, you can test it by using  Microsoft’s Do Not Track Test Page.

Firefox Beta for Android is available for download from the Android Market. Download the browser and test the next version of Firefox on your phone.

The update also includes some speed improvements and better compatibility with the SwiftKey keyboard for Android.